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My Out of Control Kitchen

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It happens every August. The tomatoes get way ahead of me. I can’t keep up with the processing. I have to dedicate an entire weekend to plowing through the produce and filling the freezer.

Add to it the CSA glut.

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For $19 a week you too can be overrun with fresh beautiful vegetables. OK, so there are also some fruit shares here. They are a slight additional cost.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered some pretty heavy boxes this week. We got:

FIVE zucchini (seriously? in a half share?)
A bag full of baby sweet peppers
A bag full of hot Hungarian wax peppers (not pictured, more below)
A bag full of baby eggplants
Two heirloom tomatoes
Three slicing tomatoes
Four golden beets with greens
Two heads of garlic

The sugar baby watermelon was part of our fruit share. Along with more of these.

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Eight more incredibly juicy luscious sweet peaches.

I swapped those peppers. For a reason to be revealed later.

I did get this.

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Three ears of sweet corn from the swap box. You can never have too much sweet corn.

My chicken share this week was a 3.5 pound heritage bird.

As for Friends and Farms, I am glad we moved to an individual share for the summer. That way we aren’t completely overwhelmed with produce.

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This was bread and cheese week for the individual share. I picked pumpkin pecan bread from the Breadery. Ewe cream cheese from Shepherds Manor.

Spring Mix. Donut peaches. Nectarines. Sweet potatoes. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. A yellow onion. Green beans. An eggplant.

As for the protein, not pictured, we got catfish, and sirloin steak.

Definitely enough to keep us from the grocery stores for a while.

I just need to get out there and start freezing food.

Lovin’ Mondays

Back before we retired, Mondays were definitely not our favorite day of the week. Back to work. Back to the commute. The early mornings. No matter the weather. We had to get up early and return to DC or northern VA on the bus or the van.

Today was just another reminder of how we love being retired. Errands. Can be done on Mondays. No weekend rush. No Saturday lines. Need to go to Lowe’s to find extra long heavy duty cable ties. Well, let’s combine that errand with a leisurely private lunch while picking up our cellar club wines at Breaux.

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An empty parking lot. The tasting room all to ourselves. Soup from a Thermos. A baguette and some peppered goat cheese. Four bottles of our cellar selections.

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We picked up a few extra bottles, one of the Malbec and one newly released Cabernet Franc Reserve. Then, off to Frederick to stop at Lowe’s and, across Buckeystown Pike, my favorite coop, The Common Market. If you live in west county, a combined trip to the Frederick Costco and The Common Market can be done with less time getting there, than going to the east side of Columbia. A few extra miles, but less time in traffic.

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The Common Market has better prices than MOM’s, and about the same as Roots, but their bulk food aisle is amazing. Three times the size of Roots. I picked up couscous, mixed nuts, cranberries and some artichoke pasta from the bulk aisle.

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Plus, Monocacy Ash from Cherry Glen. A treat for our upcoming Valentine’s Day dinner. I will pair this cheese with whole strawberries from our freezer, which were picked at Larriland last spring.

Another special touch from the olive bar. To serve with the lamb on Thursday. Mixed marinated veggies, gigante beans and chickpeas.

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I was supposed to be picking up items to make a local/organic lasagna with my meat sauce I slow cooked yesterday. As usual, too many other tempting goodies there. Then, home tonight to pop chicken pot pies from them into the oven, and watch one of the better sunsets of late. Looks like tomorrow will be warm and clear. Can’t beat this weather.

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“The Chew” Inspired Dinner

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OK, now that I am retired, I tend to watch the noon news. A while back, I started watching The Chew, or at least I had the TV on while I was doing other things. It is The Chew that inspired this dinner.

Green Tomato Pasta and Prosciutto and Melon with Arugula

Pasta based on a Mario Batali recipe, as well as the melon salad, based on an MB carpacchio. Oh, let’s not forget the cocktail. A Michael Symon inspired Meyer Lemon Basil Fizz.

A few days ago I made the green tomato spaghetti. I still have lots of greens, and quite a few tomatoes that fall off the vines before they are fully ripe. They ended up in this dish. I did substitute some organic basil and cheese ravioli tonight, and my pesto is one of those mutt varieties. All sorts of greens. Leftovers, so to speak.

This pesto was made with carrot tops, radish greens, mint, basil, parsley, pistachios, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic. Olive oil drizzled in. I didn’t measure anything. It was all done by taste. Sometimes winging it gives you awesome food.

Then, I took those tomatoes that fell off the vines in the storms Sunday night. Sauteed them in olive oil with scallions. Added only salt and pepper.

The pasta was from David’s. A basil based organic ravioli. The salad. Made with arugula, melon and prosciutto. Mario Batali had a melon carpacchio the other day. I don’t have salami around, but had prosciutto. Clean and fresh. You can build layers of flavors using four simple ingredients. Cantaloupe. Prosciutto. Arugula. Pepper.

Melon prosciutto salad

The wine. One of our favorite New Zealand style Sauvignon Blancs from Glen Manor in Virginia. Cuts through that richness of the pesto. I had enough pesto left to keep for another meal. There will be more green tomatoes.

hocofood@@@

Brinner

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Breakfast for dinner. One of the simple pleasures. Lots of things left from the fridge and a couple of eggs. Everything locally procured, except for the bread which came from High’s. But, it was Hauswald’s, a Maryland bakery. You know, that weird white bread is just different after eating freshly made good bread from places like Atwater’s. But, when the roads are all messed up and High’s is open, you make do.

The A/C is fixed. Just a capacitor, a victim of the power surge. It is now cooling down again, but dinner was quick, easy to make and didn’t heat up the kitchen too much.

More tomorrow about our clean up and some thoughts about being in West HoCo after such a huge storm.

hocofood@@@

How Did I Do on Avoiding Grocery Stores in May?

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A while back I made a resolution to avoid shopping at chain grocery stores unless I absolutely had to get something not easily found elsewhere. I also promised my hubby to clean out the pantry and freezer, and maybe he would get me a chest freezer for my summer produce and fruit.

We found the freezer at Costco and picked it up yesterday. He kept his part of this bargain and I did pretty well on my part. This March picture of the freezer shows lots of CSA and market meats that needed to be used.

I have been plowing through them and not shopping until I made a dent in it. This crock pot Tuscan style soup, made with beans, greens, new potatoes, tomatoes included chicken stock plus a smoked ham hock from the freezer.

I grilled CSA Italian sausages more than once this spring, so they are gone now.

I only set foot in Giant once, and Weis once this month. Grand total there was less than $100 together. Mostly staples and things like Mother’s Day card and Graduation cards. No produce. No meats. No seafood. I got all those things from Boarman’s, Roots, CSA, farmer’s markets, or Costco.

I also am down to only three organic pizzas in the freezer, left over from buying some packaged items at Roots before my February surgery. Turns out we didn’t need to use them.

I have to say I did a good job of ridding my freezer of processed foods. Now, to reap the benefits of my garden, the CSA, and U pick projects at Larriland by filling the freezer with summer bounty to enjoy next winter. My new chest freezer will be dedicated to fruit and veggies, and maybe part of whatever we get at the County Fair. I am thinking of getting lamb at auction this year.

I am using that last package of ground lamb from the winter farmer’s market to make kofta kebabs this weekend. My first attempt at making these. Should be interesting.

Cooking from scratch. It is far more satisfying to me to do this.

Taking this:

To this:

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Summer CSA Week Three

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I needed a wide angle lens and I had to stand on a stool to get it all in the picture. This week, the box was chock full of goodies.

Twelve items. Yep, we got to the pick up site and found the boxes full of veggies. The list from the site:

A peek down into a loaded box:

I swapped the kale for a second package of garlic scapes. I want to make another batch of pesto to put in ice cube trays and save for winter cooking. Easy, and so good to use in the dead of winter.

My cost analysis this week yielded even bigger savings than the previous weeks.

Lettuce mix – 18 oz. would cost $10 at Roots. Scallions $1.69. Garlic scapes $2 a bunch X 2 = $4. Bok Choy $3.69. Spinach $3. Collards $3. Radishes $2. Turnips $2.50. Kohlrabi $3. Rainbow Chard $3. Broccoli $2.50. Total for equivalent of organic and farm raised veggies is $38.40. I pay $29.75 a week for the CSA. Again, this week’s organic haul is a bargain. Total savings for the three weeks is $21.15. In good years like this one so far, CSAs are a real bargain, but the risk of a bad year is always out there.

Did I use everything last week? All but the kale, which I swear will become kale chips Sunday or Monday. A couple of red scallions, and half a head of romaine. Everything else got used. So, I did OK in the consumption department. I will leave this post with a pic of one of the mostly local dinners I made using CSA and market foods, and a local wine.

The wild ahi wasn’t local, nor was the Pacific Red Pepper Tomato Soup that made the sauce. The ahi was braised in sauce with red scallions from the CSA, and olive oil. The bread is Atwater’s rosemary Italian. The potatoes came from the Olney market. The garlic scape pesto I made using local scapes, not local pine nuts and parmesan and olive oil. The wine, a lovely Vin Rouge from Glen Manor in VA was the perfect weight to complement the big flavors in the pesto and in the red pepper tomato sauced ahi. 2010 was a hot dry year. This wine was 14.9% alcohol but didn’t feel like it. Good balance of flavors. I saw an email from Jeff White, the owner and winemaker, that came today saying this Vin Rouge is running low. If you want a lovely wine in a Bordeaux style produced here on the East Coast, this is a good one.

I will be using more of the garlic scape pesto tonight making Israeli couscous with pesto, and a side of fresh English peas, asparagus and mint. Dessert will be fresh strawberries with buttermilk cake from the market, and vanilla ice cream, not local unfortunately since South Mountain is missing from the market.

This entire month I went to a chain grocery store once, and spent less than $50 getting staples. You can eat well in season using local markets and your CSA. I really love this time of year. The start of the fresh food season. Now, what to do with kohlrabi?

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A Day Trip to Lancaster

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It was way too nice out to stay home. We decided to play hooky from yard work and spring cleaning and head out for a leisurely back roads drive to one of our favorite destinations, Lancaster.

We intended to drive by a few of the Amish barn, shed and outbuilding companies and also hit the Central Market. We got a late start so bagged the first part and just lingered on the second.

Ever since I was little my parents would take weekend drives with us, taking us to parks, cities, towns, whatever, just because they liked exploring. I don’t know when I first entered this building with them, but I was pretty small.

The building is really hidden now, as the city skyline changes around it. I keep forgetting where to turn to find the nearest parking.

You have to navigate carefully to get in this back way, but it puts your car really close so you can bring things out and wander the streets.

I did not take pics inside, as not to offend any of the Amish who don’t wish to have pictures taken of them. It is hard to selectively take pics and not get an inadvertent image. I respect their wishes so put the camera away. We hit many of our favorite stands, like Clyde Weavers for bacon and smoked kielbo.

I had to get goat cheese feta and mozzarella. These are not made by our local goat cheese purveyors and they are so good, and lactose free.

To use with the mozzarella, one of the stands was offering home grown, greenhouse ripened tomatoes. So much better looking than supermarket tomatoes, and cheaper than those sold at Silver Spring Market, or at Roots.

With the mozzarella, the tomatoes, and basil from Mock’s last Saturday, it looks like a Caprese salad some night soon. We had a snack, then wandered the new shops behind and across from the market. We couldn’t resist trying this, in lieu of making a sangria for a get together with friends. We needed something fun and low alcohol to complement spicy wings. This wine should do it. The PA wines made from fruits are fun, summertime light wines.

These two bottle packs are eco friendly, and the wines are just fun. We don’t always want heavy wines in the hot weather, and this one is a treat. The winery is just outside Lancaster, and they source the fruit from all over. This wine is slightly sweet, but the winery also makes dry varieties of wine. Nice people, a friendly tasting room, and we had a relaxing day riding the back roads of PA and MD. What we got today should tide us over until our Sandy Spring CSA starts next Thursday. We got an email today with specifics, including the first two picnics at the Amish farms near Lancaster. In May and June. Can’t wait.